Organics, food costs & what's up with "Counter Service Casual"
We get asked about our food costs at Lucky Santo from time to time & we thought this would be an ideal venue to dig in. Have to love blogs for that feature, if not anything else!?
In addition to food costs, guests (and social media inquiries) bring about questions such as, why are there no servers? Is your food organic? Am I getting what I pay for? We think this is all interconnected. In fact, we know it is!
We get it-- we are the new kid on the block & people have all the questions! Well, we want to answer to the best of our ability so here we go:
To the organic question: At Lucky Santo, we source about 80% of our food & beverages from organic, biodynamic, non-industrial farms at any given time & are always working to find more producers that fit our needs. With produce & protein (not shelf stable), working with local (PNW) farms is far more important to us then adhering to a very broad federal organic statement. For instance, One Leaf Farms is one of our suppliers, they are not certified organic, but go way beyond federally organic standards. Seasonality is also an issue, as growing conditions create limits. Coming into spring & summer, our organic numbers will go up! More sustainable produce for everyone!
To the cost question: The food we are serving also takes an additional preparation time (read: many more hours of labor/cost) than traditional fare. For instance, the vegetables used for the noodles take over an hour each morning to prep. If we used rice noodles, we would simply drop them into a pot of water. The bagels we bake make the product much less cost effective than if we were to use all-purpose flour, which is much cheaper than the special blend of organic tapioca flours, flax egg, etc that we use in our recipe.
What we serve: Beyond organic, at our restaurant, the preparation is part of the cost of creating food with no processed ingredients. We are having to process all foods in house to adhere that there are no additional, unwanted ingredients. For example, each morning, we create our own (organic) nut & hemp milks. This process takes about an hour, but creates nut milks without stabilizers, canola oil, or other unwanted ingredients. We could easily purchase organic alt milks for $2-4 a box, but then we would be serving our customers products we do not believe in & creating more waste!
Continuing with the price conversation, the City of Seattle is adding to the price of our food when we dine out within City limits. $10-$20 for a small/shareable plate at any restaurant is quite normal. We are sure everyone is aware of high lease/rents & city business taxes for all business spaces. At Lucky Santo, we pay our staff a living-wage, above City requirement, as hope that they can live in the city they work (something our children's teachers don't even receive).
We are also working towards a long term goal of health insurance for staff, and parental leave, when needed. Our counter service allows one spot where we are able to cut labor costs of additional servers, while a whole-house tip share encourages a better living wage for all employees at Lucky Santo, not just front of the house workers.
We hope this helps in the on-going conversation of what we are up to in the old Gob Shoppe on Sunset Hill. We love our guests, staff & the neighbors that cross the city to visit. Keep the good questions coming & we will keep the transparent conversations alive.
Holly & Nikki
(Co-Owners at Lucky Santo)